State Sen. Jabo Waggoner: Despite inadequate facilities, don’t expect a new Alabama Statehouse any time soon
One of the major hurdles facing the Alabama Legislature in the COVID-era has been having a place to conduct the business of the state of Alabama safely without the possibility of spreading the virus among a potentially vulnerable population of legislators.
A possible solution sometimes mentioned has been finding a new place for the legislature to meet, including building a new statehouse facility.
Back in May, the new statehouse option was raised by Alabama Senate leadership but was withdrawn after the proposal was used by Gov. Kay Ivey to damage the reputation of the legislature during a political fight for control CARES Act coronavirus relief funding.
The Alabama Legislature is still scheduled to convene for the 2021 regular session in February and is expected to meet at the existing Alabama State House on Union Street across the street from the Capitol.
State Sen. Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia Hills) said not to expect that location to change “any time soon.” Waggoner, who has served in the Alabama Senate since 1990 and in the Alabama House of Representatives from 1966 to 1983, said that although the facilities are lacking, things are better than they were before the legislature moved from the Capitol building in 1980 to the current State House building, which had originally opened in 1963 as the Alabama Highway Department Building.
“It has been mentioned for years,” Waggoner said in an interview with Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show” on Wednesday. “Of course, in the early 80s, we moved from the State Capitol, which was very inefficient because of the lack of rooms, the lack of committee rooms. In the early 80s, we did move from the Capitol over to the Statehouse, where we are now. Of course, it is a lot better than it was up until the early 80s. But it’s talked about a lot. It’s mentioned to build a new statehouse. But I don’t think in our near future you’re going to see that. It’s really just a topic of conversation right now. We do have some inadequate facilities based on the space involved. I don’t see any big change in my lifetime and maybe not in yours, Jeff. But it’s a subject of discussion, and it’s probably needed, but it would be a very expensive ordeal.”
“Every time it is brought up, we see some critical comments, you know, probably deservedly,” Waggoner added. “But if you don’t serve in the body and are exposed to what we have on a daily basis, you probably wouldn’t really understand why there is the need. But I don’t think anything will be done any time soon.”
@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.